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How to get over a pt complaint

Posted

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I've literally felt horrible about this since it happened and don't know how to move past it. I had a patient the other day who complained to the DON (who happened to be doing rounding) that it took me twenty minutes to bring him Tylenol. While I understand that it is frustrating for patients to wait, I can't believe that the DON actually had the charge nurse talk to me about this. I had a very high patient acuity load that night that started with a discharge, a critical response and transfer to Tele at start of shift, an ICU transfer that required hourly vascular assessments, and a total care patient, and yet the patient that complained was my lap appy that was stable and went home the following morning. I am just so disheartened, I try my hardest at my job every day. I will go out of my way to make my patients as comfortable and happy as I can (I even changed this patients linens at 0300, kept his ice pack refilled, made sure he had ice water all night, got him warm blankets, everything I could think of to make him comfortable). I guess it might not bother me had I been sitting at the nurses station gossiping or even charting, but if it really DID take me 20 minutes it was because I was helping another patient and couldn't leave. Working nights I never see the DON and thus he knows nothing about my work ethic. The patients that are content with the care provided or even impressed are rarely seem to say anything other than things are great, which of course apparently is no direct reflection on any one nurse. I'm just so sad about this, my first complaint in two years and it was to the DON of all people. :crying2: I know I take criticisim personally but how do you move past complaints like this.

canoehead, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER. Has 30 years experience.

Probably a buddy of the DON and that's why it got so far. Your boss had to talk to you so if the DON asked she could say she did. I suppose it would be annoying to wait for your Tylenol, but I certainly wouldn't complain to anyone's boss about it. Sheesh.

roser13, ASN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, ASC. Has 17 years experience.

I feel for you. I too struggle (even @ my age!) with dealing appropriately with patient complaints. And as to how to move past it, only experience will help you. Feeling the sting of criticism so acutely (when you know you did your best) unfortunately goes with the territory of being a new, conscientious nurse.

If the DON went to your charge nurse with this complaint, it is likely that the charge nurse defended you and described your work ethic. It is true that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. Particularly in our current care-delivery model (the patient and his/herh family members are always right), those "customer" complaints, even the most minor, will probably always be delivered to you, rather than just written off.

LouisVRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I feel for you. I too struggle (even @ my age!) with dealing appropriately with patient complaints. And as to how to move past it, only experience will help you. Feeling the sting of criticism so acutely (when you know you did your best) unfortunately goes with the territory of being a new, conscientious nurse.

If the DON went to your charge nurse with this complaint, it is likely that the charge nurse defended you and described your work ethic. It is true that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time. Particularly in our current care-delivery model (the patient and his/herh family members are always right), those "customer" complaints, even the most minor, will probably always be delivered to you, rather than just written off.

Yes, our hospital is very "customer-service" oriented, usually I like that though. I don't know I just feel horrible about it. If he thought I was taking too long why didn't he tell me? I could then hopefully explain to him that while I understand he is in pain and trying to get his medications to him as quickly as possible, I can't leave someone else in a precarious situation, the same as I wouldn't leave him in one, or leave his needs unmet before I left the room. The thing about the charge nurse is that it was the day charge nurse the DON went to and I work nights. Ugh this is totally just eating me up.

Moogie

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.

LouisV---

I'll be honest with you. I've been an RN for over 18 years. I've taught nursing, I've started up a parish nursing program from scratch, and I am in graduate school. After all that, it still bothers me if someone complains, especially if the complaint was not warranted. I know I should be tough and that I still need to work on developing a thicker skin, but it still bites. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism---not at all---but it just sounds as if your patient took his wrath out on you.

Yes, maybe you could have asked someone else to give him the Tylenol but I have a feeling the other nurses were probably just as busy as you were. And it sounds as if you gave excellent care but that it just wasn't enough to satisfy this patient.

What is most frustrating, though, is that the patient complained to your DON who is not aware of your good work habits or how good the care that you gave him really was. When I've been in a similar situation, I have felt frustrated, too, and it's made me feel more self-conscious around the supervisor to whom the person might have complained. It might sound very silly, but sometimes I would feel nervous around the person---like he/she was trying to catch me screwing up (yet again).

When I taught (as well as when I supervised) I always tried to catch people doing the right thing and I would make sure to give them positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. I think I feel so strongly about this because I haven't had many supervisors or instructors who would do that for me. (I think some people get off on a power trip by intimidating others, but that's another day, another discussion...)

I am really sorry this happened to you. I remember reading another of your posts a while back and you seem like a very caring, competent nurse. Maybe it bothers you because you care. I know the feeling. :hug:

Moogie

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.

I feel for you. I too struggle (even @ my age!) with dealing appropriately with patient complaints. And as to how to move past it, only experience will help you. Feeling the sting of criticism so acutely (when you know you did your best) unfortunately goes with the territory of being a new, conscientious nurse.

I am so glad to know that I am not the only seasoned nurse who feels like this.

BTW, I agree with you, roser13, that it's all about the "customer" these days and the Press-Ganey scores. It doesn't bother some administrators when actual care suffers but let those precious scores go down and all hell breaks loose!

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

working nights i never see the don and thus he knows nothing about my work ethic. the patients that are content with the care provided or even impressed are rarely seem to say anything other than things are great, which of course apparently is no direct reflection on any one nurse. i'm just so sad about this, my first complaint in two years and it was to the don of all people. :crying2: i know i take criticisim personally but how do you move past complaints like this.

i rotate shifts, so i get a chance to work with all the nurses on staff in my facility. i can tell pretty much all i need to know about someone's work ethic by the way they leave the room, the patient and the chart and change of shift, and by how aware they are of what's going on with the patient when they give me report. the impression i've formed of my co-workers by following them has rarely been changed after working next to them. people with a good work ethic leave the room, the chart and most especially the patient neat and clean. they know what's going on with their patient and all their meds, vital signs and i&os are charted. (i'm not talking about someone who occaisionally has a bad shift, but folks who consistently leave things in good shape for the next shift.) i'm sure your don has a pretty good idea of your work ethic, and maybe had to speak to you because he has a box to check off on a form whenever he gets a patient complaint.

complaints happen, even when you've done your job perfectly. (and how many of us are perfect?)

Things like that used to eat at me but anymore...I don't lose 30 seconds sleep over it. I probably would have responded and told the truth about why I didn't get him Tylenol at the drop of a hat and left it at that.

LouisVRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

LouisV---

I'll be honest with you. I've been an RN for over 18 years. I've taught nursing, I've started up a parish nursing program from scratch, and I am in graduate school. After all that, it still bothers me if someone complains, especially if the complaint was not warranted. I know I should be tough and that I still need to work on developing a thicker skin, but it still bites. I don't have a problem with constructive criticism---not at all---but it just sounds as if your patient took his wrath out on you.

Yes, maybe you could have asked someone else to give him the Tylenol but I have a feeling the other nurses were probably just as busy as you were. And it sounds as if you gave excellent care but that it just wasn't enough to satisfy this patient.

What is most frustrating, though, is that the patient complained to your DON who is not aware of your good work habits or how good the care that you gave him really was. When I've been in a similar situation, I have felt frustrated, too, and it's made me feel more self-conscious around the supervisor to whom the person might have complained. It might sound very silly, but sometimes I would feel nervous around the person---like he/she was trying to catch me screwing up (yet again).

When I taught (as well as when I supervised) I always tried to catch people doing the right thing and I would make sure to give them positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. I think I feel so strongly about this because I haven't had many supervisors or instructors who would do that for me. (I think some people get off on a power trip by intimidating others, but that's another day, another discussion...)

I am really sorry this happened to you. I remember reading another of your posts a while back and you seem like a very caring, competent nurse. Maybe it bothers you because you care. I know the feeling. :hug:

I really do care, very strongly about all of my patients. I think thats what bothers me the most. And our DON is kind of intimidating, especially considering I almost never see them working nights. I just feel like he got the wrong impression of me. Honestly, thinking of asking someone else didn't occur to me, as this was a post-op patient I wanted to make sure I accurately assessed his pain and checked his temp before I gave him the Tylenol as he was running a temp earlier in the shift. I don't know I guess along with taking criticism personally I have a hard time asking for help. Working nights I really like to "cluster care" and like to get to see and assess my patients while they are awake. Oh well I guess you live and learn. Its just frustrating, just last night I had two patients thank me for being so nice and taking the time to call their doctors to alleviate some pain issues (which I managed to resolve with the physician to the patient's satisfaction) but more than that they appreciated that I took the time and did what I said I would do, yet I am sure the DON will not round on these patients and if he does he will find them snoozing away, pain free at last.

LouisVRN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg.

i rotate shifts, so i get a chance to work with all the nurses on staff in my facility. i can tell pretty much all i need to know about someone's work ethic by the way they leave the room, the patient and the chart and change of shift, and by how aware they are of what's going on with the patient when they give me report. the impression i've formed of my co-workers by following them has rarely been changed after working next to them. people with a good work ethic leave the room, the chart and most especially the patient neat and clean. they know what's going on with their patient and all their meds, vital signs and i&os are charted. (i'm not talking about someone who occaisionally has a bad shift, but folks who consistently leave things in good shape for the next shift.) i'm sure your don has a pretty good idea of your work ethic, and maybe had to speak to you because he has a box to check off on a form whenever he gets a patient complaint.

complaints happen, even when you've done your job perfectly. (and how many of us are perfect?)

that's probably very true. i'm very ocd about my patients, my documentation, their rooms and charts. before i leave in the morning all the trash is taken out, iv lines are labeled, the patients have trays ordered (if they aren't npo) and either fresh ice water or mouth swabs at bedside, they've been medicated for pain (if they are in pain when i round the hour before shift change) and any discharge/teaching/consents have been printed because i know what a difference this makes to the oncoming shift. i am one of the few nurses that don't rely on our report sheets to give reports, i feel that in 12 hours i should know the patient well enough to not have to read off of what i was told yesterday, half of which could have changed in the night. idk i guess my ocd gets me when as impossible as it is, i want everything to be perfect for all my patients all the time.

peace man. sometimes s-h-i-t does happen. i know how you feel but dont be bothered much. our patients would never be satisfied with us cos they have their own problems.

RITA2007

Specializes in Cancer research/ Orthopedics/ Surgery. Has 5 years experience.

You can't please everyone, all the time. I used to KILL myself trying to be at everyone's beckon call. Now I just prioritize and do my best to keep my patients comfortable. If it takes me more than 10 minutes to retrieve pain medication, I apologize upon delivery. I don't make excuses, I just apologize. If that doesn't work, then I don't know what would.

Moogie

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.

Oh well I guess you live and learn. Its just frustrating, just last night I had two patients thank me for being so nice and taking the time to call their doctors to alleviate some pain issues (which I managed to resolve with the physician to the patient's satisfaction) but more than that they appreciated that I took the time and did what I said I would do, yet I am sure the DON will not round on these patients and if he does he will find them snoozing away, pain free at last.

I felt like that about my high school gym teacher. I was not particularly athletic so it seemed that she was only looking when I did something stupid, like if I missed the tennis ball or fell on my backside off the balance beam. If I did do something right, like spike the volleyball straight past the other team's best player, she was always preoccupied and never saw me do well. My gym teacher also seemed to never have time for the nonathletic girls---those of us who weren't on any teams---and so I felt that she had a negative impression of me anyway, which didn't help me feel at ease---or learn to enjoy athletics!

I think there are some DONs and nurse managers who are very observant and can tell a lot about their nurses' work ethics even if they don't see them often. Still, it is a disincentive for those who work off-shifts to never see the manager, to never have contact unless the nurse has done something wrong. I know of one nurse manager who makes it a point to come to work at 3 AM if necessary so he can touch base with his staff. He is fair, respected, effective, and loved by his staff. I wish managers like him were the rule rather than the exception. Most seem to be like my last manager who rarely emerged from her office or from behind her clipboard, was never there on a weekend, and would expect night shift workers to stay for an hour past the end of their shift if she needed to talk to them because she could not be bothered to come in early. (I wonder if she was a gym teacher in her previous life...)